Police forces on Friday evening captured two Palestinian infiltrators who crossed the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip and entered Israel. The two were seized in the Arab town of Tira and are believed to be illegal residents looking for work.
Another two Palestinians, who apparently drove the infiltrators into Israel, were captured in the city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.
Following the arrest, the police lifted the high alert declared across the country, which caused heavy traffic jams.
The incident began at around 4 pm, as IDF soldiers spotted two Palestinians crossing the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip near Kibbutz Mefalsim and entering Israel.
Security forces were dispatched to the area, but the two Palestinians managed to escape into Israel in a car waiting for them nearby.
Heavy traffic jams caused by roadblocks (Photo: Shir-Lee Golan)
The IDF decided to address the issue out of the assumption that the Palestinians were armed and may have been on their way to carry out a terror attack. The entire area, including the roads leading to Kibbutz Mefalsim and its surroundings, was blocked by the police.
Security officers in nearby communities were instructed to close the gates of the communities and only allow in people who had undergone a security check. Security forces began searching the area, using a helicopter.
It is still unclear how the Palestinians crossed the fence and why the force failed to capture them. IDF sources noted that "in the meantime the forces are focusing on locaing the two infiltrators, and will only engage in inquiries afterwards."
The border fence around the Gaza Strip is considered an obstacle which is well-protected by IDF troops. The soldiers are required to thwart infiltration attempts both by terrorists and by illegal residents wishing to enter Israel in order to look for work.
Since the IDF withdrew from the Gaza Strip as part of the disengagement plan, forces have foiled dozens of attempts by Palestinians, many of them terrorists, to cross the border fence. The fence has even been nicknamed "the wall of death" after dozens of terrorists were killed in the area by IDF fire.
Eli Senyor and Raanan Ben-Zur contributed to the report